Embryonic Star – Mandira Pattnaik

Embrionic Star - Unsplash

The impacts took place between the 16th and 22nd July, 1994, when your dad must’ve been orbiting on elliptical paths between the NICU and me on my maternity ward bed. You must’ve blinked when the comet shook Jupiter; your heart only a frozen rock by then, obscured by the coma and a tail; a dark-bluish tail, ionized and too feeble for my grip. On the seventh day, you must’ve paused to have a look as you traversed past the huge plumes rising from the planet’s depths on your way to oblivion and sent us back seismic waves that jolt our cores to this day. Were you too bored, my embryonic star, closeted in my spherule (after three failed pain cycles and three aborted attempts) that you decided to weave a network in your brain too complicated to survive?

I remember the split-second you gave us to see you before time evaporated, when nurses rushed you to where you’d be shackled for the next six days in tubes and pumps. Your tiny body had a faint glow, your face that of an angel. I cried out after you, but time was infinitesimal, and sound doesn’t travel in a void. I lived on the edge, near the Oort Cloud, where distance and time have no bearing, numbed even when your dad clutched my cold hand in his tear-wiped palms.

There, at the left-end of the ward, my bed saw black panic and stellar hope repeat randomly, until we discovered patterns in them, so precious we’d catalogue them for the rest of our lives – six constellations after six days of voyage in the infinite dark. And when you decided to speed away, the moment was like a supernova, transient and eternal in equal measures. How that pause has taught us to see you unaided, emerging in a spectacular burst, from haze the consistency of talcum powder, and onto our mindscapes, every time we close our eyes.